Post can also be found on TRS http://therealsingapore.com/content/handling-awkward-chinese-new-year-questions
Woohoooo!!! It’s that time of the year again to stuff our glorious face with Chinese New Year goodies, eat bak kwa that someone else queued 6hours for and extend our weekend with strategically taken leave.
But it’s also the time where we meet relatives whom we haven’t spoken with for a year and struggle to remember their different salutations. D: D:
Well it’s not that we don’t look forward to seeing them but,
“Boy where’s your girlfriend?”
“What you doing now ar? Earning how much?”
“Finish army already or not?” (walau how many donkey years already…)
And as I recently left my job to travel and am still single, I foresee the interrogation to be pretty rough this year.
Which is why, I’ve decided to come up with a strategy to deal with the challenge this time. Oh yes, a strategy for handling awkward CNY questions.
(1) 知彼知己，百戰不殆 Know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles
Taking a page out of Sun Tze’s Art of War (yes this is war… well kind of), I think the first step is to know yourself. What are the questions that you will not be able to answer convincingly? Is it related to work, marriage, children or school? Only then can we prepare for them sufficiently.
But knowing ourselves is not enough, we need to know our interrogators as well. Intelligence is key and although Facebook is a good resource for our peers, we will need our parent’s help for the elders. Find out their life story so we can guess the hot topics and brace ourselves for the questions they will ask.
(2) Strike while the iron is hot
You know that first 30seconds after you finish greeting everyone in the house and sit down with a drink in hand? That’s when the first window of opportunity presents itself. Pluck up your courage and start the ball rolling by asking about their lives and listen sincerely. I mean we hardly see them and it’s always good to know more about the people we share genes with.
After all we’re already there so let’s make the most out of it instead. It also helps in siam-ing (avoiding) or delaying the awkward questions. Might also learn some things that will make the awkward questions less awkward.
(3) Get involved
Possibly one of the best ways I can think of to escape without having to talk too much. Get involved and be busy with something. Help out with the cooking, set the tables, do the dishes, bring the dog out for a walk, learn to play mahjong or cards. At least that will be fun, you might learn something new, and the focus of any conversation will be on the activity itself!
(4) Prepare a script?
It’s not about having a standard answer or giving everyone false impressions here. Rather it’s about framing thoughts and having the clarity to answer people who might be genuinely curious and concerned for you. After all there must be a reason for not being able to answer some (if not all) of those awkward questions. Others may not understand fully, but at least we’ll be sure of it ourselves!
(5) Comeback line cheat sheet
If all else fails, there is always the cheesy but often effective comeback lines. I’ve scoured through the net for some of these, so hope they’ll be useful. Oh yeah take that!
– “Omg! Thanks for reminding me, I’ve got an email to reply.” Then proceed to disappear.
– “Sadly not earning as much as you”
– “If I tell you I’ll have to kill you,” followed by sinister grin.
– “My job’s not interesting, what about yours?”
– “Do you know of anyone suitable?”
– “Cause good people like you are hard to find”
– “We’re still saving up for our new flat!”
– “How does it feel to not receive any more ang pows now that you’re married”
– Redirect to your other siblings
Think I’m ready for the challenge now.
p.s. Anyway, I don’t know if I’m really going to try any of these, but do comment and share below if you do, or have tricks to escape awkward cny questions of your own yup!
Gong Xi Fa Cai people! Time to put my phone on friend mode to enjoy the celebrations!